The Economist writes The prospects for WiMax has been overhyped. Excerpts with edits:
WiMax, an emerging wireless-broadband technology is akin to a long-range version of the popular Wi-Fi technology that allows computers close to a small base-station to surf the internet without wires.Whereas Wi-Fi's range is limited to a few tens of metres, WiMax can, in theory, work over tens of kilometres, allowing huge areas to be blanketed with wireless coverage. Hence the claims that WiMax will bring internet access to the 5 billion people who currently lack it, or that it will render expensive "third-generation" (3G) mobile networks redundant.The reality, is that WiMax has been hugely overhyped. Today, the actual number of WiMax devices on the market is precisely zero. The hype is now giving way to much scepticism about the technology's prospects. WiMax, may be used by telecoms firms in rural areas, to plug holes in their broadband coverage. In urban areas WiMax does not make sense, since it will be uneconomic compared with cable and DSL. It is also too expensive for use in the developing world, since early WiMax access devices (which must be fixed to the outside of a building) will cost around $500; other forms of wireless link, such as mobile-phone networks, will remain a cheaper way to connect up remote villages.
Intel regards WiMax as a promising source of future growth. Intel plans to establish a franchise similar to its hold on desktops in mobile devices through WiMax, a far larger market. Equipment-makers, for their part, are counting on Intel to deliver: WiMax will become widespread only if the price of access devices falls, which in turn depends on the availability of cheap, mass-produced WiMax chips.